May 10, 2019

Learn to read Chinese with manga

Hello everyone,

I started an experimental series on Youtube called Learn to read Chinese with manga. Feel free to check it out if you like.

I found reading to be a fantastic aid which helped me learn most of the languages I speak because of the following:

  • the language is 'frozen in time'. When you listen to something, even if it's a recording that you can rewind, words flow very quickly. When you are reading something, the language is frozen and laid out on the pages you read and you can read whatever you want at your own discretion. 
  • you can look for patterns in the language (crucial for learning a foreign language) much more effectively, because you can quickly compare something you see on page 7 with what you saw on page 3 etc. enabling you to get to your Aha! moment quicker
  • you can make notes directly onto the page you are reading
  • you have more time to analyze the structure of the language because you don't have the speed of the language to fight with
  • you can constantly return with your eyes to the Aha! words/constructions on the page you are reading (repetition - crucial for remembering new information)
I also found that when reading a foreign language, the absolute best thing ever is, when beneath the text I have a literal translation of what is written word by word in Neanderthal and then a translation of the same thing in nice English, as it should be said by an educated native speaker like so:

Latin  Praeterea se neque sine exercitu in eas partes Galliae venire audere, quas Caesar possideret, neque exercitum sine magno commeatu atque molimento in unum locum contrahere posse.
Neanderthal Moreover himself neither without an army into those parts of Gaul to come to dare, which Caesar possessed, nor an army without great supply and difficulty into one place to bring together to be able
Nice English That, besides, neither dare he go without an army into those parts of Gaul which Caesar had possession of, nor could he, without great expense and trouble, draw his army together to one place

If you are reading something on your own, the most tedious task is to work out the Neanderthal version and the nice English version on your own.

All of the above is exactly what I am trying to achieve in this video series:
  • freeze the text in time
  • give you a nice English translation
  • give you a Neanderthal word-by word explanation, explaining the sentence structure, word function and etymology in detail
  • give you a chance to skim the text with your eyes freely for a quick back check in case you noticed something that would help you get to an Aha moment
  • work with real and not textbook language and work with something that is interesting (that's why I chose manga)
  • work with something which is in difficulty on the mid-way between upper-intermediate textbooks and real books written in Chinese. The reason for this is, that it is great for most students of Mandarin, especially intermediate students, because learning from material which is just one notch above your current level is the best thing you can do in my opinion
The only problem is that the manga is written in Traditional Chinese, but I provide a transcription in simplified characters and pinyin in the description for the video. 

I made 5 test videos so far, will release them every 3-4 days to see the response and might develop them into a full series if people enjoy it and find it useful. 



  1. Outstanding videos and your explanations are excellent. I must learn traditional characters because of the herbal research I am. involved in.
    However, as I learned. from my Japanese experience back in the 1980's, any attempt to teach the characters based on etymology or history ends up causing more confusion than help. It would be interesting to know what dictionary you prefer, particularly for traditional characters. Thanks !!

  2. Hi,

    thanks for the comment. I actually just work directly with and do my own research.

    I wrote a book about Chinese character etymology which I honestly think is one of the best books on Chinese character etymology out there if you're interested:

    All the best,